A novel diagnostic algorithm for chronic and subacute cough
Background: Cough remains the most common reason for patients to seek medical attention. We practised a novel diagnostic algorithm for chronic and subacute cough.
Methods: Chronic and subacute cough patients with normal chest X-ray results and without respiratory tract infections in the preceding eight weeks were recruited. The patients were divided into two groups: Group A, patients with typical symptoms and signs of postnasal drip syndrome (PNDS), asthma syndromes (AS) and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD); Group B, patients without the typical symptoms and signs. The two groups received targeted or sequential empirical trials of therapy according to the algorithm.
Results: Among the 524 patients available for analysis in Groups A and B, 436 (83.6%) were diagnosed to have PNDS (34.2%), AS (44.5%) and/or GERD (10.1%), among which 26 had two causes (6.0%) and 6 had three causes (1.4%). After empirical trials of therapy, 81.5% of the patients were diagnosed. The mean time for diagnosis was considerably shorter in Group A (13.1 ± 5.6 d) than in Group B (23.4 ± 7.2 d) (p < 0.01). The diagnosis rate of the first trial in Group A (54.1%) was significantly higher than that in Group B (28.6%, p < 0.01).
Conclusions: The proposed algorithm is a promising and practical approach to diagnose chronic and subacute cough.
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